by Mary Dillinger, Public Affairs Officer, NAVAHCS
While the staff at the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System show appreciation and gratitude to Veterans every day, the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War provides the perfect opportunity to welcome home Veterans.
At the recent Vietnam Veteran Day Event at the medical center, more than 250 Veterans were presented the 50th anniversary Commemoration lapel pin by the Medical Center Director, Barbara Oemcke and Chief of Staff A. Panneer Selvam. Following the event at the medical center, there was a “Moment of Silence” at the Prescott National Cemetery in memory of the service members who did not return home from the Vietnam War. Many community partners, Veteran Service Organizations and Veterans attended both events to support our Vietnam Veterans in the quad-city area.
“It is important to thank our Vietnam-era Veterans and take the time to welcome them home,” says Oemcke. “The Northern Arizona VA serves more than 29,000 Veterans and more than 15,000 served during the Vietnam era. In addition, 35 percent of our workforce are Veterans.”
In 2012, President Barack Obama declared March 29 as Vietnam War Veterans Day. The 50th Anniversary Commemoration Lapel Pin was established to be presented to Vietnam-era Veterans until the year 2025 to commemorate the 13+ years of the Vietnam War.
The significance of the pin is to recognize, honor, and thank all Veterans who served from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975 regardless of where they served. The pin is symbolic, and each component has a meaning behind it. The eagle represents courage, honor and dedication; the blue circle signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice; the wreath symbolizes victory, integrity and strength; and the stars represent the six countries who served during the Vietnam War: Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and the United States. The message, “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You,” on the back, closest to the wearer’s heart, reminds each Veteran that this is a national initiative.
“It is unfortunate our Vietnam Veterans did not receive the welcome home they very much deserved, but we are attempting to show our appreciation for their service and sacrifice,” Selvam says. “Our goal is that every Vietnam-era Veteran is presented a 50th anniversary Commemoration Pin.”
We are incredibly fortunate to be located in a community where Veterans are respected and honored. If you have not received your pin, or you know a group of Veterans who want to receive their pins at a meeting or a gathering, please contact Public Affairs Officer Mary Dillinger at 928-717-7587 to arrange a presentation. Our goal is to ensure all Vietnam-Era Veterans receive their 50th anniversary Commemoration Pin. Family member pins, stickers and buttons are also available.